Updated on March 4, 2021

There are few feelings as delicious as snuggling into a warm sleeping bag at the end of a glorious day on the trail, and there are few feelings as disturbing as sliding into your sleeping bag and realizing that it’s not warm enough and you’re in for a sleepless, shivering night. Your sleeping bag can make or break your backpacking trip, so you need to choose the right one. It’s not easy: there are hundreds of bags on the market, offering different shapes, sizes, insulation types, and temperature ratings at wildly different prices. We’ve made your choice a bit simpler by selecting ten of the best backpacking sleeping bags for different price ranges and seasonal needs.

For more of our top backpacking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Women’s Backpacking Sleeping Bags | Budget Sleeping Bags | Lightweight Sleeping Bags

Summer Sleeping Bags | Sleeping Bag Liners | Down Sleeping Bags | Double Sleeping Bags 

Winter Sleeping Bags | 20 Degree Sleeping Bags 

 

Quick Answer - The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags

  1. Western Mountaineering MegaLite
  2. Kelty Cosmic 20
  3. Feathered Friends Hummingbird UL 30
  4. NEMO Kyan 35
  5. NEMO Disco 15
  6. REI Co-op Helio
  7. Marmot Trestles 30
  8. Marmot Never Summer
  9. Marmot Always Summer
  10. REI Co-op Magma

 

Comparison Table - Best Sleeping Bags for Backpacking

PictureNameInsulationWeightTemperature RatingShapePriceRating
Western Mountaineering MegaLiteWestern Mountaineering MegaLiteDown1 lb 8 oz30 FMummy$$$$4.9
Kelty Cosmic 20Kelty Cosmic 20Down2 lbs 10 oz21 FMummy$4.3
Feathered Friends Hummingbird UL 30Feathered Friends Hummingbird UL 30Down24 oz - 21.3 oz20 or 30 FMummy$$$$4.5
NEMO Kyan 35NEMO Kyan 35Synthetic1 lb 12 oz35Mummy$4.4
NEMO Disco 15NEMO Disco 15Down2 lbs 11 oz14 FSemirectangular$$4.3
REI Co-op HelioDuck Down1 lb. 9.3 oz. (Lightweight)40 degrees (F)Semi-Rectangular$4.5
Marmot Trestles 30Synthetic3 lbs 1 oz (Heavy)30 degrees (F)Mummy$4.0
Marmot Never SummerMarmot Never SummerDuck Down3 lbs. 3 oz. (Heavy)0 degrees (F)Mummy$$4.0
Marmot Always SummerMarmot Always SummerDuck Down1 lb. 10.8 oz. (Lightweight)40 degrees (F)Mummy$$4.5
REI Co-op MagmaGoose Down1 lb. 12.2 oz. (Lightweight)16 degrees (F)Mummy$$$4.5
PictureNameInsulationWeightTemperature RatingShapePriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags

Western Mountaineering MegaLite

Specs
  • Insulation: Down
  • Length: 67 inches
  • Weight: 1 lb 8 oz
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Temperature Rating: 30 F
  • Stuff Sack Size: 7 x 12 inches
Features
  • 850-fill down
  • Water-resistant coating
  • Continuous baffle system
Western Mountaineering MegaLite

BEST OVERALL SLEEPING BAG

The MegaLite was designed to be more spacious than Western Mountaineering’s coveted ExtremeLite bag, featuring 64 inches of shoulder girth. The bag boasts an impressive warmth to weight ratio and continuous baffles throughout. It packs down to a little over 7 liters and weighs in at just over 1.5 pounds.

What we like most about this sleeping bag is that as with most of Western Mountaineering’s sleeping bag line-up, the MegaLite is considerably warmer than its assigned temperature rating. For a backpacking sleeping bag, this is the most spacious and comfortable in its class.

Kelty Cosmic 20

Specs
  • Insulation: Down
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Weight: 2 lbs 10 oz
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Temperature Rating: 21 F
  • Stuff Sack Size: 8 x 13 inches
Features
  • 550-fill down
  • C0 and PFC-free durable water repellent (DWR) coating
  • Internal zippered stash pocket
Kelty Cosmic 20

BEST FOR: BUDGET BACKPACKING

Kelty updated the Cosmic 20 from last year with a thinner, 20-denier shell fabric that created for an overall lighter product. The sleeping bag is constructed from hydrophobic down and features dual-sliding anti-sag zippers, which provide for excellent ventilation.

What we like most about this bag — besides its affordable price — is the 50-denier polyester taffeta lining, which feels like silk against your skin.

Feathered Friends Hummingbird UL 30

Specs
  • Insulation: Down
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Weight: 24 oz - 21.3 oz
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Temperature Rating: 20 or 30 F
Features
  • Trapezoidal footbox
  • Continuous baffles
  • 3D contoured hood
Feathered Friends Hummingbird UL 30

BEST FOR: ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING

If you’re looking for one of the warmest, lightweight bags in its class, look no further — the Hummingbird UL has you covered. The Hummingbird UL 30 was designed with 950 plus fill power down insulation that creates for impressive loft for its weight. A full-length snag-proof zipper provides for adequate ventilation in warmer temperatures, making it a versatile option for most seasons.

What could be improved about the Hummingbird UL is how noisy the Pertex Shell outer fabric is, which could be a problem especially for light sleepers. It’s also pretty narrow with only 58 inches of shoulder girth and wouldn’t be ideal for backpackers with wide shoulders.

NEMO Kyan 35

Specs
  • Insulation: Synthetic
  • Length: 72
  • Weight: 1 lb 12 oz
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Temperature Rating: 35
  • Stuff Sack Size: 7 x 13 inches
Features
  • Thermo Gills
  • Ripstop nylon fabric
  • Full-length zipper with a snagless baffle
NEMO Kyan 35

BEST SYNTHETIC OPTION

If you plan on backpacking in super wet conditions where a down bag is less than ideal, consider the NEMO Kyan 35 instead. This bag weighs in at just under 2 pounds and the PrimaLoft Silver synthetic insulation provides for a pretty outstanding warmth to weight ratio. NEMO’s proprietary “gills” allow for superior ventilation and the snag-free zipper is full-full-length.

This bag packs down to 6.6 liters, making it an impressive competitor compared to down bags in its class. It’s also inexpensive at $200, just $20 more than our budget pick.

NEMO Disco 15

Specs
  • Insulation: Down
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Weight: 2 lbs 11 oz
  • Shape: Semirectangular
  • Temperature Rating: 14 F
  • Stuff Sack Size: 9 x 12 inches
Features
  • 650-fill-power down
  • Full-length, 2-way zipper
  • External draft collar
NEMO Disco 15

BEST FOR: SIDE SLEEPERS

For those of you that toss and turn, the Disco was designed to keep you comfy all through the night. NEMO’s Disco 15 is designed in a spoon-shape as opposed to the traditional mummy bags on the market. It features the brand’s ventilation Thermo Gills and has a waterproof toe box feature, which is pretty unique. It also includes a built-in pillow sleeve.

What we like most about the Disco 15 is how roomy and comfortable it is. The brand designed the bag to be wide through the knees and the elbows, addressing two the most common complaints we hear from side sleepers.

REI Co-op Helio

Specs
  • Insulation: Duck Down
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Weight: 1 lb. 9.3 oz. (Lightweight)
  • Shape: Semi-Rectangular
  • Temperature Rating: 40 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 6.5 x 8.5 inches
Features
  • Unzips Into A Quilt
  • Relaxed Shape For Warm-Weather Comfort
  • Water-Repellent Finish (to keep you dry even in damp conditions)

BEST BUDGET SUMMER BAG

This lightweight, compact summer bag gets rave reviews and is one of the most affordable bags on the market. If your outdoor adventures don’t involve cold and you’re looking for a great deal, look no further: the Helio is what you want. This bag is a great addition as a liner for cool nights, or you can use it solo if you’re a warm sleeper or you don’t mind wearing some extra clothes in your bag. Some reviewers even suggested that it’s possible to transform this sleeping bag into a “Snuggie” of sorts, which you can wear around camp on cool mornings or chilly nights by the campfire!

Marmot Trestles 30


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Insulation: Synthetic
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Weight: 3 lbs 1 oz (Heavy)
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Temperature Rating: 30 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 8.5 x 18 inches
Features
  • External Stash Pocket For Storing Nighttime Necessities
  • Anti-Snag Zipper Keeps Bag Fabric Out Of Zipper
  • Off-Side Partial Zipper For Drying And Ventilation
  • Long Wide Size Available For Larger Users

BEST BUDGET 3-SEASON BAG

This synthetic-fill bag may not be the lightest or the most compact sleeping bag on the market, but it will keep you warm in temperatures down to freezing, and it will get you on the trail without crushing your bank account. If you need a quality sleeping bag and you’re not ready to lay out the coin for a premium down bag, or if you’re looking at camping in wetter-than-usual conditions, the Marmot Trestles 30 makes an excellent compromise choice. With three sizes available in the men’s version and two in the women’s, there are enough options to assure everyone a perfect fit in an affordable 3-season bag.

Marmot Never Summer

Specs
  • Insulation: Duck Down
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 3 oz. (Heavy)
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Temperature Rating: 0 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 8.5 x 18 inches
Features
  • Water Repellent Finish (to keep you dry even in damp conditions)
  • Draft Tube Backs Zipper To Keep Cold Air Out
  • Multi-Baffle Hood For Head Warmth
  • Heater Pocket In Footbox (heater packets sold separately)
Marmot Never Summer

BEST BUDGET WINTER BAG

“Budget” is a relative term here. The Never Summer is by no means cheap, but it’s about as cheap as you can get for a true winter sleeping bag that will keep you warm when the temperature dives well below freezing. A water-repellent shell keeps the insulation dry, a down-filled draft tube behind the zipper keeps cold air from leaking through the zipper slot, and the baffles (the pockets that hold the down in place) in the hood are optimized to keep you warm even when the hood is drawn tight. There’s even a pocket in the foot area for a heating packet, the winter camping equivalent of a hot water bottle for your bed. If you’re going to camp in the winter, you need the right gear, and choosing this bag let’s you get started cold weather camping without having to choose between poverty and hypothermia!

Marmot Always Summer

Specs
  • Insulation: Duck Down
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Weight: 1 lb. 10.8 oz. (Lightweight)
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Temperature Rating: 40 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 7 x 14 inches
Features
  • Anti-Snag Zipper Keeps Bag Fabric Out Of The Zipper
  • Wrap-Around Footbox Adds Space and Warmth
  • Multi-Baffled Hood For Head Warmth
  • Internal Stash Pocket
Marmot Always Summer

BEST SUMMER BAG

This light, compact bag is a great value in a first-class piece of gear and is warm enough to stretch into late spring and early fall, especially if you’re a warm sleeper. Marmot’s classic summer bag has a premium set of features, like an anti-snag zipper to keep the bag fabric from being sucked into the zipper, a foot area that adds space without sacrificing warmth, and hood baffles (the pockets that hold the down in place) designed to insulate even when drawn tight. It also carries a surprisingly reasonable price tag, making it a top choice for campers who prefer warm-weather adventures.

REI Co-op Magma

Specs
  • Insulation: Goose Down
  • Length: 72 inches
  • Weight: 1 lb. 12.2 oz. (Lightweight)
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Temperature Rating: 16 degrees (F)
  • Stuff Sack Size: 7 x 14 inches
Features
  • Plenty Of Knee And Foot Space
  • Anti-Snag Zipper Keeps Fabric From Getting Caught In The Zipper
  • Contoured Hood With Pillow Space

BEST 3 SEASON BAG

The Magma 15 has the highest warmth-to-weight ratio in the REI lineup, coming in at only 1 lb 12.2 oz for the regular size for a bag rated down to 16 degrees F. With high-quality water-resistant down and a host of premium features, this bag is drawing top reviews as one of the best all-around backpacking bags on the market. Pair this bag with a good quality insulating pad and it will keep you warm at well below freezing temperatures while adding only marginally more weight and bulk to your load than a good summer bag.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A SLEEPING BAG FOR BACKPACKING

You want your sleeping bag to be light, compact, comfortable, and warm. Check the weight, and look at the stuff sack size to see how much space the bag will take up in your pack. Most backpackers prefer the narrow mummy or semi-mummy shape, which is snug but keeps bags lighter and more compact. Down is the insulation of choice, though backpackers on lower budgets or those who are often in wet conditions may prefer a synthetic fill. Beyond that, our choices are narrowed down by our budgets and by the conditions in which we intend to use our equipment.

 

TEMPERATURE RATINGS

An “ISO” or “EN” temperature rating is based on a standardized test that assigns two numbers: a “comfort” rating and a “lower limit” rating. If you see two figures, the bag has probably been ISO or EN tested. The testing is expensive, so many manufacturers just assign their own rating based on design and experience.

Temperature ratings are a general guideline, and actual performance will depend on the conditions, the pad you use, the clothes you wear, and how much warmth you need. People who are considered “warm sleepers” will want a warmer bag, those who are “cold sleepers” can push the rating more. Remember that it may get colder than you expect!

 

SEASONAL CLASSIFICATIONS

Most manufacturers classify bags in three brackets: 

  • SUMMER BAGS are rated at 30 degrees (F) and above
  • THREE SEASON bags are rated from 15 to 39 degrees (F)
  • WINTER BAGS are rated below 15 degrees (F)

 

INSULATION TYPE

DOWN

Goose and duck down are durable, light, and can be repeatedly compressed and still expand to full volume after. Those qualities make them the preferred insulators for sleeping bags. There are several types of down typically listed in sleeping bag specs.

WATER REPELLENT DOWN

AKA water resistant down – this is down that is treated so that it absorbs less moisture. These treatments have made down more competitive with synthetics for wet weather camping.

SYNTHETIC INSULATION

Synthetic insulation in sleeping bags typically involves mats of polyester fibers, though most manufacturers use their own proprietary types. Synthetic insulation is heavier and less compact than down, but it is also less expensive, dries faster, and continues to insulate even when wet.

RESPONSIBLE DOWN STANDARD (RDS)

This is down has been sourced from suppliers who comply with animal treatment standards.

 

SLEEPING PADS

Your insulating pad is an integral part of your sleeping system. Most bags have limited insulating ability on the bottom, because your weight compresses the insulation. A good pad is essential, and many bag manufacturers use straps, pockets, or other arrangements to attach the bag to the pad and keep you from sliding off it. If you’re looking for a pad to go with your new bag, check out our review of the best sleeping pads for backpacking.

 

ZIPPERS

Most sleeping bags close with a full-length zipper on one side, and some offer a partial off-side zipper to assist ventilation. Most bags can be ordered with a left-side or right-side zipper, depending on your preference, and many bags with opposing zippers can be zipped together to form a double bag. This feature is not available on all bags, so check if you plan to use it.

Anti-snag zippers are designed to prevent the fabric of the bag from getting stuck in the zipper, which is inconvenient and can damage the zipper or the fabric.

LEARN MORE

REI has an excellent guide to buying a backpacking sleeping bag, which explains many features in great detail. For a deeper discussion of temperature ratings, see this comprehensive guide from Therm-a-Rest.

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

SHELL FABRICS

The shell is the fabric that holds the insulation in place. Many outer shells are now given water repellent treatments, while inner shells are given a soft texture for comfort. All shell fabrics are a compromise between weight and strength: you want it to be light, but you don’t want to rip or puncture it!

FILL WEIGHT

Fill weight refers to the expansive quality of the down. 500 fill weight is the lowest typically used in sleeping bags, while high-end bags use the very expensive 800 to 900 fill weight down. Higher fill weight indicates higher quality down.

BAFFLES

Insulation is sewn into compartments called baffles, which keep the insulation in place and prevent cold spots. Manufacturers devote a great deal of design ingenuity to arranging baffles for the best performance.

SIZES

Most men’s sleeping bags come in a 78 inch long and a 72 inch regular size. Most women’s bags offer a 70 inch long and a 67 inch regular size. Some manufacturers use different sizes, and some may have additional lengths or extra wide sizes. Weight and bulk may vary with size.

DRAFT TUBE

Draft tubes are insulated pockets that close off the space behind the zipper to keep cold air from seeping in.

INSULATED COLLARS OR YOKES

These are insulation arrangements that close off the neck area to avoid heat loss.

STUFF SACK

Most manufacturers supply two bags: a compression sack that reduces the bag to its smallest possible volume for stowing in a backpack, and a storage sack that allows the bag to loft up and breathe. Storing the bag in the provided storage sack when not in use will extend its lifespan.

Some manufacturers quote stuff sack size in external dimensions (in inches), others in volume (usually in liters).

 

READ MORE

For more of our top hiking & backpacking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

About The Author

Steve Rogers operates an adventure travel business in the mountains of the northern Philippines, where he organizes and guides mountain biking, canyoneering, trekking, and white water rafting and kayaking trips. He has guided sea kayak trips among the islands of northern Palawan and sailed small catamarans up and down the coast of western Luzon. He owns an outdoor shop, accumulates excessive quantities of gear, and occasionally throws shields around. He is the primary author of Action Asia’s Adventure Travel Guide to the Philippines and has written extensively on a wide variety of topics.

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One Response

  1. M. L.

    I’m torn. Based on the traveling.camping I do, I would need to buy two sleeping bags. I’m not sure what would be best for hiking in South America. Could you point me in a direction? For camping this time of year and as it gets colder here in Michigan, I would go for the Nemo Sonic if I had the budget, and if my budget was tight, the Kelty SB20 I, like you, have woken up freezing before, one time taking all of my clothing, getting dressed in multiple layers and piling the rest on top of me (when I got caught out in an ice storm and it was safer to pull over and pull my bag out of my trunk…where I keep it in case of emergencies when I’m not camping). Even with all that I was cold. I immediately invested in a better sleeping bag after that happened. I believe in buying the best you possibly can afford and taking care of it…and I do like how there is more room at the end of the bag is (where my feet would be located). I prefer that.

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